The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian


Court Tomb


This was most definitely the highlight of a mixed bag of a day. Things had started out sunny and warm but by the time we found Clyhannagh it had been raining for about 4 hours. I’d been at the bottom of the track that leads to Clyhannagh three times before, never knowing that it’s actually publicly accessible. I knew, sensed, that the place would be special, but had always retreated.

The area has Marble Arch caves and the Stairway to Heaven walkway up Cuilcagh and can be quite busy but it’s still otherworldly. We passed by again and bounced over to Belcoo, beaten by the lack of a parking place on the very narrow road. I felt deflated, disappointed after the success at Doohaty Glebe. We saw the bullaun at Templenaffrin and decided to give it one last shot. Arriving back at the track the two visible gates were open. Ah, the joys of a 4 wheel drive.

Two hundred yards up the track we met some locals and asked their permission to go visit the megalithic tomb. The what? Yeah, well it’s a five thousand year old burial tomb. Don’t know it but sure go on ahead, you can keep going all the way to the other side. Right – thanks. See yez. Three more field gates across the track and we’re in Burren-like territory – in fact the Cavan Burren is only about 2 kilometres west of here. It’s nowhere near as eroded and grykey here as it is in Clare and the area around the tomb is farmed – bullocks roamed and there are a few old farm buildings – but the place is wild.

The tomb was only re-discovered in 1970 and the archaeological survey says that it’s covered in hazel scrub – the good news is: not any more. Who cleaned it up and why matters little – I’m just glad they did. What remains is a dual court tomb aligned almost north south. There is little, if anything, remaining of either court but both galleries retain plenty of character – though there is no stone separating them, their distinctiveness is clear with a gap in the sidestones midway along their 8 metre length. The southern gallery is the better preserved.

You could be a million miles away from so-called civilisation up here, yet Blacklion and Belcoo are only a couple of miles to the north-west. Almost directly west of the tomb is an unnamed mountain, an outlier from the Cavan Burren hills further west, separated from it by the meandering Marlbank road, the long horseshoe that wends its way up from the Florence Court Road, past the Caves and various other attractions before diving north again past the Marlbank viewpoint above Lough Maclean Upper. It’s a strange prominence with cliffs and corries but very climbable in places, and for the life of me, I can’t find its name anywhere. It dominates the terrain around the tomb and, it would seem to me, was an important consideration in the placement of the monument by its builders.
ryaner Posted by ryaner
4th June 2021ce
Edited 5th June 2021ce

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